DATE: Wednesday, October 1, 1997            TAG: 9710010439



                                            LENGTH:   59 lines


Patrons of Hooters won't find mustachioed musclemen in sexy T-shirts and shorts asking for their orders.

The restaurant chain known for its scantily clad waitresses agreed to pay $3.75 million to settle a sexual discrimination lawsuit brought by men turned down for jobs because of their gender.

The settlement allows Hooters to continue luring customers with an exclusively female staff of Hooters Girls. But the chain agreed to create a few other support jobs, such as bartenders and hosts, that must be filled without regard to gender.

So women hoping for the same ``vicarious sexual recreation'' offered by Hooters Girls can forget it. There will be no Hooters Boys.

At the Waterside Hooters, responses to the settlement were mixed.

Mike Shaver, general manager, knew about the suit, but declined comment.

Among Tuesday's customers, Bob Maas, an accountant from New York, said he thought the men sued for the money.

``I think the guys are wrong,'' Maas said. ``It's like football for girls. It's just not right. If you go to see exotic dancers, you don't see guys there.''

``Our business is on the female sex appeal side,'' Mike McNeil, a spokesman for the restaurant, said Tuesday.

``Over the years there have been lots of people who have suggested (offering some male sex appeal). Our answer is, if you think that's a good, economically viable idea, get your capital together and go ahead and do it,'' he said.

Under the agreement, signed earlier this month, the restaurant chain agreed to set aside $2 million as compensation for men who were turned away from jobs because of their gender. Lawyers will get an additional $1.75 million. The agreement is subject to U.S. District Court approval.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission investigated the discrimination complaint for four years, then dropped it in 1996 saying it had more important cases to pursue. The EEOC did, however, suggest that the chain hire men for the jobs held by Hooters Girls.

The recommendation drew ridicule. The chain put on a humorous advertising campaign featuring a burly, mustachioed man wearing a blond wig, short shorts and stuffed shirt, with the slogan ``Come on, Washington. Get a grip.''

The private lawsuit settles a consolidation of legal action brought by seven men from Illinois and Maryland who argued that their failure to get jobs at Hooters was a violation of federal law.

But Tuesday at the Waterside Hooters, Bill Anderson, a sailor on the South Carolina, said he wouldn't mind if more men were employed at Hooters. He might even be among the first.

``I'm here to have a good time,'' he said. ``I'd apply for a job. You get to be around all these beautiful women. C'mon.''

MEMO: Staff writer Michael Clark contributed to this article. ILLUSTRATION: [Color Photo]

burly man in a stuffed shirt... KEYWORDS: HOOTERS LAWSUIT SETTLEMENT

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